REVIEW: Shetland (S5 E1/6)

One of the best British crime drama shows, Shetland, made a welcome return tonight. I say ‘best British crime drama’ because it really is, and has lots of the ingredients that make up successful and engrossing crime shows: a lead character that’s likeable and watchable, a supporting cast that exhibits the same kinds of characteristics, gorgeous, sometimes otherworldly landscapes, and interesting crimes that often have their roots tangled with the local community.

These virtues were evident in this series opener. DI Jimmy Perez (Dougie Henshall) lamented the fact that he was living in an empty house with a humdrum life, when the phone rang – a severed hand had been found washed up on a nearby beach. Soon, the head appeared on another beach.

It was a grisly start to proceedings.

In the very first scene, we had seen a young African man standing, shivering, in the middle of a road, rolling green hills and mist enveloping him. He had been waiting for someone. He looked out of place, afraid, cold. He wasn’t dressed for the elements. What was this man in a grey suit doing in Shetland?

And so the scramble for clues, and the procedural journey, began. We saw Sandy pore over CCTV footage, we saw Jimmy and Tosh interview people at the locations he might have visited, and we eventually got a name: Daniel. We also got that cocaine had been found in the bag he had been carrying.

As ever with Shetland, some characters from the local community presented themselves as the investigation developed: a fisherman whose boat Daniel seemed to take a particular interest in; an unhelpful man who worked at a scrap metal business; a sneering hotel owner; ‘away day girls’ living in a caravan near to a new pipeline. And then there was also local industry: could the crime have been connected to local fishing scams?

All these questions and all these tangents are what give Shetland real flavour, but even with all of these elements, the procedural journey never gets diluted. Watching Jimmy – already furrowed of brow and deeply affected by the young man’s horrible death – go about his business, you can’t help but root for him and can’t help but become embroiled in the case as he does.

Things were further complicated when Daniel’s estranged mother turned up out of the blue. She explained to Jimmy that she hadn’t seen her son since he was a child, and that ever since then he had lived with his father in Nigeria. The mystery deepened: what on earth was he doing on Shetland?

Olivia, the mother, seemed to be extremely sensitive about her connection to her son, often snapping at Jimmy and Tosh if she thought her motherhood qualities were ever brought into question.

It was an excellent start to the series, with an intriguing, head-scratching case. We left Jimmy and Tosh searching through the rooms of a hotel (the same hotel owned by the manager who gave Jimmy some lip earlier on in the episode), after they had seen a short video in Daniel’s email inbox from her his sister, who gravely pleaded for him to ‘give them what they wanted or she would die’. Suddenly, Jimmy was faced with a people trafficking racket, or something that looked very much like a people trafficking racket, on the island.

With Duncan now staying with Jimmy (after he was his marriage crumbled) and the promise of something with a returning female friend to the island, it’s safe to say that our likeable copper is going to be kept very busy in this series.

Paul Hirons


REVIEW: 35 Awr (S1 E6/8)

During the previous five episode, this Welsh-language crime drama has proved itself to be a real twisty-turny affair, the lives of 12 jurors coming under intense scrutiny. It has been revealed that each one has been harbouring secrets galore, and the situation they’ve been thrust into has only amplified their idiosyncrasies, their fears and their hidden pasts.

But for some, they’ve actually engineered a spot on the jury so they can get to someone else.

In this sixth episode, things really stepped up a gear and things really started to happen. There was a lot going on.

Where to start? Our gaze was very much on the hotel tonight, the place starting to become a real purgatorial black hole of horror and encroaching awfulness. Steve was being his usual avenging angel self, and set up what looked like a confessional execution chamber for Haydn in the attic. At the end of the episode, Haydn’s life was in the balance – he really shouldn’t have admitted to Steve that he was drunk when he performed the operation on his mother. Elsewhere, before Steve got to Haydn, he had found an obstacle in the shape of Ree – she had been snooping around yet again, and found some incriminating papers in Steve’s room. Ree was being set-up as someone who had a specific, particular interest in Lynwen in previous episodes, but in this instalment, the whole group seemed to have piqued her interest. Her curiosity got her bound and gagged by Steve, her fate to be determined.

But there was more. Nadine was revealed to be a deeply troubled woman, who admitted to Carwyn that her husband had died in a fall off a mountain (“I think it was a fall,” she whispered somewhat ambiguously). She now carried some of her husband’s ashes in her wedding ring. But that wasn’t all – she told Carwyn that his fiancé Jo had died in a car crash, and that she went around meeting people whose significant other had died. She was some sort of grief vampire, feeding off people’s pain and sorrow. I wasn’t entirely sure what her game was with poor Carwyn – at the end of the episode, Jo turned up alive and well.

Other bits and pieces? Lynwen’s son was revealed to have been fathered by Haydn, and predatory Peredur admitted to Taz that he was a sex addict who was all over the place because his partner was a serial adulterer.

Phew. I told you there was a lot going on here.

But perhaps the two greatest revelations exploded away from the hotel. In flashback form, we saw Rachel (who I think is Kelvin and Leighton’s mother) kiss and cuddle Heulwen on the night of her death. She was going to reveal to her husband that she was in love with Heulwen, but events overtook her plans. Could one of the brothers have killed Heulwen because she was having an affair with their mother?


Or maybe not.

Stewart, the policeman overseeing the whole case and looking after the jurors, turned out to be a wrong ‘un. He had driven Merired to her family home so she could check on her daughter. During the drive, he had tried to convince her that Kelvin (and Leighton) had always been bad people and it was no surprise that they had done what they did. But don’t let me influence you, he said. Red flag! And then, while Merired was inside, he spoke to someone on the phone, telling them everything was going to plan and the jurors would find Kelvin guilty.

So now we had corruption, and it looked for all the world that Stewart was fitting up Kelvin.

Or not.

Emerging from the back seat was Leighton who began to strangle Stewart.

Honestly, you can’t keep your eyes of 35 Awr for a second. I have genuinely no idea where this is going.

Paul Hirons